Asteroid hunter came close to Earth: he flew only 350 km from the planet (video)
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Spacecraft Lucy flew past Earth at such a low height that NASA had to take into account the effect of atmospheric drag when designing the span.
The Lucy spacecraft was launched into space in mid-October last year and the goal of its 12-year mission is to study Jupiter's Trojan asteroids. These asteroids have never been studied by any terrestrial apparatus. Space enthusiasts had the opportunity to watch the flyby of “Lucy” near the Earth with the help of the Virtual Telescope project of the Italian astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, who led the live broadcast of this event, writes Express.
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The spacecraft “Lucy” flew over the Earth at an altitude of 350 km. This spacecraft needs to use Earth's gravity to pick up the necessary speed and go to the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter.
“This spacecraft will help to understand how our solar system began by studying the Trojan asteroids that orbit the Sun in the vicinity of Jupiter “, says Gianluca Masi.
Lucy's mission is to study 7 Trojan asteroids of Jupiter (Eurybat with its moons Quetu, Polymelus, Leucus and Orus, as well as Patroclus and Menetius) and 1 space rock in the main asteroid belt (52246 Donaldjohanson). During its flight, the spacecraft will perform another gravitational maneuver around the Earth in the future.
The first gravitational maneuver around the Earth allowed the spacecraft to approach the planet at a distance even less than the ISS. Therefore, “Lucy” flew in an area filled with satellites and space debris.
To ensure that nothing happened to the device, NASA had to take into account atmospheric resistance, as well as anticipate any dangerous moments that could lead to a collision with other objects in low Earth orbit. For this, special commands were given to the device so that it could maneuver in space.
According to NASA representatives, the device flew by 50 km higher than originally thought. But in fact, scientists deliberately changed the flight altitude using the additional fuel reserves of the apparatus in order to avoid dangerous moments in orbit.
What are Trojan astroids, and why the spacecraft got such a name, Focus already wrote in detail. It is worth noting that on board the device there is a special message for future space explorers, because “Lucy” will forever remain within the solar system even after the end of her mission in 2033.
already wrote em> Recently, scientists have discovered a satellite around the Trojan asteroid Polymel, to which Lucy is heading.